Shatter to propose changes to age of consentTuesday, June 5th, 2012
Proposals to give effect to recommendations about the age of consent are set to be put before the Cabinet, Justice Minister Alan Shatter (pictured) has said.
One recommendation is likely to be that the age of consent should be dropped to 16. This is despite the fact that the Taoiseach Enda Kenny strongly opposed reducing the age of consent when he was leader of the Opposition in 2006.
Speaking last week at a meeting organised by the Royal College of Physicians about the age of sexual consent, Mr Shatter said that proposals made in reports by two Oireachtas Committees to reduce the age of consent, “have for far too long been ignored.”
Mr Shatter referred to the issue of consent having been addressed, “at some length,” in these reports, according to the Irish Times. In 2006 the Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection recommended lowering the age of consent to 16.
However, when this recommendation was made initially, Mr Kenny strongly opposed it, saying it sent, "a wrong signal to our children about values and standards.”
Mr Kenny said, “This decision is out of touch with the values and aspirations of the vast majority of parents in Ireland, parents who want to live up to their responsibilities to nurture and protect their children."
A reduction of the current legal age of consent from 17 to 16 was also recommended in 2009 by the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children's Rights.
Mr Shatter said last night that the age of consent is an issue about which there is, “legitimate political difference.” However, he refused reveal his proposals on the age of consent, which he soon intended to bring before Cabinet colleagues.
Dr Caitríona Henchion of the Irish Family Planning Association raised concerns about doctors being liable if they do not report a consensual relationship between a 16- and 17-year- old under mandatory reporting guidelines.
Under guidelines, doctors had to report child abuse. At the same time a person aged 17 was considered an adult, she said.
by Tom O'Gorman